Monday, March 11, 2013

What We Spent on Spring Break

Cost of family travel is a common topic among parents. And this recent article in the New York Times definitely got the family travel blog group I'm a part of buzzing. In it, $4,500 is given as the cost of a "budget" trip for spring break.

Say what?! I don't know about you, but $4,500 and "budget" don't belong in the same sentence as far as I'm concerned. So I thought I'd take a look back at what our trip to Florida for spring break last year cost our family of four.

I outline our expenses below. You'll see that we spent well under $2,000. And by no means did we keep a tight watch on our wallets while there. We ate out often (at least once each day, usually at sit-down restaurants). We still went to major attractions, like the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. And we stayed in a 2-bedroom condo across from the beach. I didn't even really think of this as a budget trip. 

In fact, this was the most expensive trip we took all year. The rest of our travels in 2012 involved driving, staying with family, or both. So we were comfortable taking on the expense of this vacation, knowing that our other travels were significantly less.

COSTS for 2012 Trip to Madeira Beach, Florida

Dinner out at sit-down restaurant:                                                                                        $50
Groceries:                                                                                                                                  $103
(included diapers, wine, beer and beach toys in addition to food supplies)

Toll at Fort De Soto Park:                                                                                                          $0.50
Lunch at sit-down restaurant:                                                                                                  $45
Dinner (pizza take-out) :                                                                                                            $14

Day 3
Expenses at Farmer’s Market:                                                                                                   $10
($5 for 2 empanadas, $5 donation for balloon animal)

Lunch at sit-down restaurant:                                                                                                    $32
Dinner at sit-down restaurant:                                                                                                  $60

Day 4
Zoo admission:                                                                                                                              $48
Lunch at zoo cafe:                                                                                                                         $27
Seafood dinner take-out:                                                                                                            $48
Ice cream:                                                                                                                                      $10

Day 5
Lunch at sit-down restaurant:                                                                                                     $35

Equipment rental:                                                                                                                         $48
(Included jogging stroller, baby swing and pack n play. $48 is after I used a $20 gift card.)

Rental Car:                                                                                                                                      $306
(included 2 car seats for 5 days)

Vacation rental:                                                                                                                             $406
(2 BR, 1 bath condo across the street from beach for 4 nights)

Flight to/from Indianapolis/Tampa for 3 people + 1 lap child:                                               $538      
1 checked bag:                                                                                                                      $40 ($20 each way)

TOTAL:                                                                                                                                             $1820.50
You spent HOW MUCH to take me to Florida?

Ways we saved:
·        Free fun at places like Fort De Soto Park and hours spent on the beach across from our condo.

·        A trip to the grocery store meant we always ate breakfast at the condo and the adults had an adult beverage each night when kids were in bed, instead of drinking at restaurants or bars.

·        We stayed across the street from the beach instead of beach front. We also only stayed 4 nights instead of a full week. With kids so young, we find this is a good length of time. Plus, my husband doesn't have to use as many vacation days and we can take additional trips throughout the year.

·        Our condo did not have a pool, which was a huge price break when comparing similar properties in the area.
·       My parents dropped us off and picked us up at the airport, so we had no parking expenses.

Ways we splurged:
·       We rented car seats, a stroller, pack n play and baby swing. We also checked a bag. I despise lugging stuff through the airport and it was much easier to have those items waiting for us upon arrival.

·       Our 2-bedroom condo. We avoid staying in hotels for more than just a night or two because our kids are so young. Everyone sleeps much better this way.

·       When pricing flights, there were several options that had one stop which were $50-$100 less than the direct flight we booked. But it was so nice to have my toes in the sand within hours of leaving Indy.

·       We love to eat out when on vacation, so while we could have had more lunches and dinners at our condo, we enjoy trying out great restaurants in the area.
You can't put a price tag on memories like this.

This post is a part of Travel Tips Tuesday at Walking on Travels and Suitcases and Sippy Cups.